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The Law Office of Lisa A. Vance, P.C.

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We are now accepting clients statewide in Texas.

WE ARE WORKING!

As the situation with COVID-19 continues to develop and evolve, the safety, health and well-being of our clients and our team is extremely important to us. We are watching for the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and international medical experts to learn how we can best manage our facility and our clients.

We would like to reassure you that The Law Office of Lisa A. Vance, P.C. will continue to be available to provide services to all of our clients.

Our lawyers and paralegals are working in the office and electronically, although most of us are working from home. Below is a list of FAQs regarding our response and commitment to you during COVID-19.

Can I even have a consultation with my lawyer remotely?

Yes, The Office of Lisa A. Vance, P.C. has a comprehensive remote working capability and all of our lawyers and paralegals are equipped to work securely from home.

Will my lawyer be available to answer questions and work on my case?

Yes, your legal matters will continue to receive our attention. You can email, call, or videoconference with your lawyer during this time.

We also have multiple videoconferencing options; please contact your attorney for the platform that works best for you

How are court hearings and appointments affected?

Court in Bexar County are now conducted by Zoom Please see our blog article Court via Zoom: It’s Actually, Really Court (and Here’s How It Works)

Can I consult with a lawyer about a new family law or divorce matter?

Yes, we have office staff working in house and remotely to ensure continuity in our business. For information about a family law or divorce matter, please call our office or complete the Request a Consultation Form.

Your family law matters remain our top concern and we are not going to permit this pandemic to take priority over your needs. We will remain confident, alert and prepared.

We wish you and your family well as we work through this difficult situation together.

With warm regards,
Lisa A Vance

 

 

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Probate Assets vs. Non-probate Assets

| Feb 7, 2018 | Probate Assets, Probate Law, Wills |

A big misnomer is that when you die you must go to probate in order to divide the estate, but in fact, the decision on whether or not to probate relies greatly on the type of estate of the decedent. Are all the assets probate assets? Or perhaps the estate is comprised only of non-probate assets? More commonly, the estate is probably comprised of both. One determines the classification of the assets following this rule: A probate asset is one that passes through the will (or court in an intestate estate) to reach a beneficiary, and a non-probate asset can pass directly to a beneficiary outside of a will and/or court.

You are still probably sitting here thinking, “What in the world does that mean?” It’s actually quite simple, so let’s break it down.

After a person passes (the decedent), he or she leaves behind an estate. This estate is the holder of all their things (i.e. assets). If there is a will, then the executor passes the assets as distributed in the will, if there is not a will, then the administrator passes the assets according to the laws of inheritance. The person who receives all of these assets is the beneficiary. But what assets are these? Well, that’s specifically what we are look at today – probate vs. non-probate assets.

Probate assets typically include an individual’s personal items, vehicles, houses or business interests and solely owned accounts without a named beneficiary. However, just because these items are traditionally a “probate asset” does not mean that the item needs to actually be distributed through probate, it just means these items usually pass through the will or intestate. I see many times though when a family can avoid probate and distribute one’s personal items, for example, without actual court involvement.

Still, some of these traditionally probate assets can easily become non-probate assets by naming a beneficiary. Take a bank account, for instance. If a husband and wife jointly own a financial account, they likely have what is known as a right of survivorship on that account, and therefore, the money in the account passes directly to the other surviving joint owner. This can even occur if only one spouse has a separate account, but has still named a beneficiary as a payable on death beneficiary. These documents are held with the bank and they will take precedence over whatever might be in the will. This may be very beneficial to the named beneficiary as they are the owners of the assets even if they were not named in a will or a beneficiary under intestate laws.

Life insurance policies and retirement accounts are additional assets where a person can name beneficiaries, thus making them part of the non-probate estate. The beneficiary designation on those documents held by the account will determine control of the asset post-mortem. Nevertheless, if no beneficiary is named on a retirement account, for example, the payment from the insurance will become part of the probate estate.

Even houses now have a transfer on death deed option available. The execution of documents is one of the many estate planning options available to you as you’re working with an estate planning lawyer. As long as it’s an asset where a beneficiary can be named, or a right of survivorship document can be issued, it can be taken from the probate estate to the non-probate estate side.

Assets held in a trust are also non-probate assets, because the trust controls the assets, and the beneficiaries are named at the time the trust is created. If you have a child as a beneficiary, you may also want to consider setting up a trust (or a contingent trust) and naming the trust as the beneficiary instead of the child. This keeps that award protected until the child turns 18, or even another age that you establish, and it keeps the asset out of probate, since there are sometimes complications with a minor as a beneficiary. This is simply an option; it’s certainly possible to list children as beneficiaries on non-probate assets.

If you’re wanting to investigate the possibilities in distributing your assets to designated people, whether it involves a will or not, I’m available for a consultation at the Law Office of Lisa Vance to discuss your probate needs. It’s helpful to know all your options, starting with the knowledge that probate law is much, much more than just drawing up a will.

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